Let me introduce you Valley fans to an indispensable 'man behind the scenes' for every football team...the equipment manager. Besides the obvious he is a trusted confidant and problem solver for a players special needs. He is, also, a valuable 'go-between' for both coach and player, i.e. reassuring a coach or player of readiness and/or effectiveness in playing.
A Cardinals' longtime ago team manager, Philip Bouzeos, passed away in Chicago earlier this week. He was ninety-six years old and a friend of my father during the team's heyday era of the late 1940's. Mr.Bouzeos and my father became acquainted before the war as teenagers who would take in the team's practices when held in the City park near Comiskey Park. Following the war my father and Mr.Bouzeos crossed paths when each started going to games in the '46 season. My father was apprenticing as a machinist at the Mack Truck plant across from Comiskey and Mr.Bouzeos was trying to be hired by the team. The two of them caught up with one another and hoisted a few beers to those from the neighborhood who 'gave their full measure.' My father had flown with the 8th Air Force while Mr.Bouzeos had served as an Army 'Dogface' in France and 'the Bulge.'
Well, anyway, Philip Bouzeos, was a typical Greek, i.e. full of life and a story for any occasion. He served the Cardinal players for many years and I know he loved every minute his time working for Violet Bidwill and being a trusted friend/employee of Bill and Stormy Bidwill while they grew up with the team. I, myself, knew him from the team's summer camp years at Lake Forest College north of Chicago after the move to St.Louis. I can still see my father reconnecting with his friend during practices there when we would travel 'up the Lake' to take in those practices when my father was on vacation. Then on the ride back home he would give me all the scoop on how the team looked and what were the expectations.
I don't recall when he left the team employ, but the last time I saw him was back in '95 at Mr.Bidwill's 'over the top' Chicago reunion on their 75th anniversary. My dad and Phil did have time to 'catch up' one more time and took my dad and I around the room to meet former players like Charlie Trippi, Elmer Angsman, Pat Harder and others. What a night that was for me to see my dad having a great time and talking with the players who won that 1947 NFL Championship.
So, it was sad for me to learn of Mr.Bouzeos's death. He has to have been the last of the men from that era still alive, but I will have the memories of my dad and Phil as longtime fans from the 'old neighborhood' coming back from the war and reconnecting with the team. For me, those old times are still alive and give me a sense of pride as the franchise comes closer to the NFL's Centennial year. Phil Bouzeos was a winner with the Cardinals in more ways than one, as the '47 Champion's team/equipment manager and my dad' friend...RIP.